CAR REVIEWS

The 2020 Toyota Corolla features a strong redesign, including a bold look on the front grille.

Just because you’re a perennial contender for best-selling car of the year, that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels.

Exhibit A: The Toyota Corolla, which gets a complete redesign for the 2020 model year as it attempts to stay current against a crop of strong compact car competitors. Read on for a full report on how it compares in the segment.

LOOKS

One major area where the Corolla sees upgrades for 2020 is its bolder look, particular in the metallic front grille design. The sides and rear of the Corolla also get an improved look.

LED headlights and LED tail lights will keep things in clear focus as you drive.

Other exterior touches on the XSE model I tested were heated power outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, a rear spoiler, single exhaust with dual chrome tips, and a power tilt/slide moonroof.

Inside, a major boost in materials quality can be found, including premium fabric with SofTex sport seats. You can get heated front seats, along with a leather steering wheel and shift knob.

Unfortunately, the space inside is tight, particularly a back seat that provides limited comfort for passengers in terms of leg room and head room. The trunk is also limited in space, so don’t expect to carry a lot of people or cargo in this vehicle
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Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Toyota Corolla
  • Price as tested: $26,629 (starting price is $19,500)
  • Best feature: Reliability, improved design
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Toyota loyalists who want a reliable and tech-savvy small car to get them where they’re going
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Blast off with the 2019 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 Featured

Apr 20, 2019
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The 2019 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport is a 400-horsepower rocket of a coupe that driving enthusiasts will love.

Wow is a word you shouldn’t overuse.

It’s only applicable when something truly surprises and impresses you.

But in this case, when talking about the 2019 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400, wow is the appropriate word to use. Because once you start driving this rocketship luxury coupe, you’ll find find yourself saying that word a lot.
Between its stunning looks, truly bold performance chops and tech offerings, it makes a strong claim for the crown of best luxury sport coupe. Read on for a full report.


LOOKS

While it hasn’t undergone a major redesign for a couple years, the Q60 (which is based on the Q50 sedan) remains one of the most attractive luxury coupes available, with its long swooping hood and sleek lines.

The interior is plush and more comfortable to driver than most sporty rides, and offers unique silver styling in the trim. A power sliding tinted glass moonroof is included, a feature that’s a must to truly enjoy this type of vehicle.

To be honest, the back seat is there for show only. As with most coupes, think of the Q60 as a two-seater.  The reality is these types of vehicles are about performance, not utility. Nobody will fit in back except maybe small children. It also has a very small trunk, even smaller than most of its competitors, so don’t plan to bring a lot of cargo.

To bring home the performance angle, the Q60 Red Sport features 20-inch aluminum-alloy sport wheels, and all-season performance tires. There are also special exhaust tips and red-painted brake calipers. The Red Sport also includes exclusive aluminum accented sport pedals.

Other options include illuminated kick plates, interior ambient lighting, and a carbon fiber package that offers carbon fiber rear decklid spoiler, exterior mirror covers, fog lamp finishers, and fender vents for just over $2K.

Examples of classy design touches are: Genuine carbon fiber on center console and doors, aluminum front door sill kick plates, chrome INFINITI Double-arch signature grille, welcome lighting on front door handles, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
  • Price as tested: $64,130 (Red Sport trim level starts at $56,900, base Q60 starts around $41K)
  • Best feature: Thrilling sporty coupe, top-notch design
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Anyone looking for a fun, fast sport coupe with a sharp design
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The Mazda6 is more fun to drive than your average midsize sedan.

Mazda, strictly by the numbers, shouldn’t be leading the pack at anything. For background, in 2018, Mazda sold about 300,000 vehicles in North America. Toyota, by comparison, sold more than 2 million vehicles in North America in the same time frame.

Given those numbers, and the assumed budgets behind the scenes that one would imply from them, it’s truly an impressive feat that the Mazda brand continues to deliver quality the way it does.

While there may not be as many of them on the road as other brands, anyone who has ever driven a Mazda will usually have very kind words to say about the experience and how impressive the vehicle design and drive quality was.

Recently I was able to test a Mazda6, the midsize sedan taking on names like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, VW Passat and Kia Optima. I’m back with a full report on whether the Mazda6 lives up this underdog’s past successes at it battles in this busy segment.

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2018 Mazda6
  • Price as tested: $36,140 (starts at $21,950)
  • Best feature: High-end and roomy interior, fun to drive
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Midsize sedan buyers seeking something that stands out in the segment
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The redesigned 2019 Kia Forte is a strong contender for best compact sedan.

When I think of the best compact cars, Kia is not usually the first brand that pops into my head. But that could be about to change.  

I recently spent some time in the fully redesigned 2019 Kia Forte, and I’m back with a rundown of how it measures up in the segment — which I must say, was surprisingly well.  


LOOKS

The Deep Sea Blue-colored 2019 Kia Forte I tested was attractive enough, by the standards of non-luxury compact cars. None of them are extreme lookers, to be honest, but there were some unique things going on with the grille and the rear lights that stood out vs. the competition.


The Forte looks bigger than a typical compact car; and has a somewhat roomy back seat and very roomy trunk for the segment. Everything is also well-organized inside, and the quality of the seating and other interior materials was higher-end than I anticipated. Seating is comfortable, and all controls are well-placed for driver use.


On the lighting front, you get LED tail lights, LED Daytime Running Lights, and power heated outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators.

You also get a compact spare tire, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, a power adjustable driver’s seat, and heated and ventilated front seats. 17-inch alloy wheels were included on the 2019 Kia Forte EX that I tested, and 15-inch wheels come on the base model.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Kia Forte
  • Price as tested: $26,220 (starts at $17,790)
  • Best feature: Excellent tech options, enjoyable ride
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Compact car buyers who are open-minded and want one of the best options available
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The 2019 Nissan Sentra is a strong choice for small car buyers seeking an affordable ride with strong fuel economy.

Compact sedans seem to be disappearing in recent years, with most Americans wanting a bit more roominess in their ride, and numbers continue to dwindle in terms of overall market share for this size of vehicle.

But there will always be certain groups of car buyers who will say that less is more — young buyers looking for that first new new car at a lower price, or people of any age with no family to cart around who want fuel efficiency.

With the number of buyers in this class being smaller, the automakers that have stuck it out in the compact sedan segment must bring their A-game to complete effectively.
Nissan remains active in this segment with its Sentra model. I recently spent some time driving a 2019 Nissan Sentra, and I’m back with a report on how it competes.

 

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Nissan Sentra
  • Price as tested: $21,490 (starts at $17,790)
  • Best feature: Strong fuel economy, affordability
  • Rating: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Compact sedan buyers who want an affordable, quality, mostly no-frills ride
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2019 Nissan Maxima is high-class, powerful sedan Featured

Feb 25, 2019
Hit: 236
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The updated 2019 Nissan Maxima is one of the most high-end non-luxury sedans on the market.

Sedans, especially the full-size variety, are a segment that automakers are fleeing in droves. Nissan, however, is bucking this trend and has stayed committed to sedans, and even continues to upgrade them.


The 2019 Nissan Maxima, their flagship sedan, gets a refresh and can now be called an excellent contender in this category, pushing itself to near-luxury territory.

I recently tested a 2019 Maxima and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

The exterior of the 2019 Maxima features upgraded front and rear styling, plus 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

Once you go inside you’ll find one of the sharpest non-luxury vehicles you can buy.
The interior design features premium leather-appointed seats, with diamond-quilted leather inserts on the Platinum trim I tested. There’s an attractive tan insert on the steering wheel offering a two-tone appearance, plus satin bronze interior faceted finishers.

You also get creature comforts like heated front seats (and optional heated rear seats). This being a full-size sedan, it’s roomy and no matter where you sit you’ll be very, very comfortable — both due to the size of the vehicle and the overall quality materials used inside. The trunk is also roomy for the segment.

If I were handing out interior design awards, this Nissan would definitely be in the running to win something.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Nissan Maxima
  • Price as tested: $43,835
  • Best feature: Beautiful near-luxury interior, strong power plant
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Full-size sedan buyers seeking a classy and powerful ride
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The BMW 530e iPerformance costs the same as the standard 530i sedan, a signal the automaker is wanting more buyers to think green.

Across all classes of vehicles, the move toward electrification and automation is on the minds of automakers, as it’s generally accepted that when automation truly gets a foothold, most of those vehicles will be electric.


The world of luxury sedans is no exception. In this elite category, where prices are high and brand loyalty is key, the question each luxury brand faces is how far to go on the electric side while still maintaining the sharpness of the traditional ride.

BMW’s 5-series is annually one of the top-selling luxury sedans, for good reason. A staple in the industry for nearly 50 years, it’s a vehicle that rarely disappoints and has attracted a loyal following for generations as it battles other stalwarts in the class such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6.

The version of the 5-series I recently tested was a bit different, and it reflects this modern movement to improve the eco-friendly factor of the vehicle. Read on for a full report on what the BMW 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid is trying to accomplish, and how it fits into the 5-series lineup and overall luxury market.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: BMW 530e iPerformance
  • Price as tested: $66,460 (starts around $52K)
  • Best feature: Awesome BMW driving experience, quick charging
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: BMW fans who want a sedan with a green side that maintains the brand’s reputation for quality driving
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The 2019 Nissan Altima is fully redesigned for 2019, both in terms of looks and under the hood.

The future of sedans is very much a question mark right now. With SUV and truck fever having taken over most automakers, in addition to a focus on electronic and autonomous vehicles, your old-fashioned four-door sedan is usually lost in the shuffle when individuals and families are choosing a new vehicle.


Some automakers, particularly on the domestic side, are taking drastic steps and essentially eliminating their sedan offerings due to lack of sales and limited profitability. But there’s still some reason for hope among car buyers who like this type of vehicle: The foreign automakers are hanging in there.


Nissan is one of those automakers, and for 2019 the Nissan Altima — its midsize sedan offering — gets some major upgrades as it takes on heavy hitters like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in the battle for market share.

I recently spent some time in a 2019 Altima, and I’m back with a full report on how the improvements boost the Altima’s stature in the segment.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Nissan Altima
  • Price as tested: $34,780 (base price is $23,900)
  • Best feature: Stylish redesign, first Nissan sedan with AWD, innovative turbo engine option
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Sedan buyers looking for one of the most updated and impressive options on the market
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